The lossless comparison page aims to gather information about lossless codecs available so users can make an informed decision as to what lossless codec to choose for their needs.
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Comparison Table
- 3 Codecs
- 3.1 Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC)
- 3.2 Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC)
- 3.3 Monkey's Audio (APE)
- 3.4 OptimFROG (OFR)
- 3.5 Tom's verlustfreier Audiokompressor (TAK)
- 3.6 True Audio (TTA)
- 3.7 WavPack (WV)
- 3.8 Windows Media Audio Lossless (WMAL)
- 3.9 Other Formats
- 4 See also
- 5 External links
- 6 References
Given the enormous amount of lossless audio compressor choices available, it is a very difficult task to choose the one most suited for each person's needs. Some people only take into consideration compression performance when choosing a codec, but as the following table and article shows, there are several other features worth taking into consideration when making a choice.
For example, users wanting good multiplatform compatibility and robustness (e.g., people sharing live recordings) would favour WavPack or FLAC. Another user, looking for the very highest compression available, would go with OptimFROG. Someone wanting portable support would use FLAC or ALAC, and so on. En fin, this is not a matter worth getting too worked up about. If you later find out the codec you chose isn't the best for your needs, you can just transcompress to another format, without risk of losing quality.
Note: for latest comparison of lossless compression, scroll down to the Links section of this page.
|Encoding speed[A]||very fast||fast||very fast||very fast||fast||fast||slow||very fast|
|Decoding speed[A]||very fast||fast||fast||very fast||slow||average||very slow||fast|
|# presets||9||2||> 10||> 10||5||1||> 10||1|
|Tagging||Vorbis tags||iTunes||ID3/APEv2||APEv2||APEv2||ASF||ID3/APEv2||ID3v1/2 or APEv2|
|Hardware support||very good||very good||limited||no||limited||limited||no||limited|
|Software support||very good||very good||good||average||good||good||average||good|
|A Speed and Compression are based on each encoder's default settings and are taken from the this comparison.|
|B The Compression ratio is compressed size/uncompressed size * 100. So, lower is better.|
|C Error handling means that a codec can detect a corruption (flipped bit) in a file and warn the user about it, but still decode the rest of the file.|
|D The official Monkey's Audio decoder does not support decoding through errors, but this may be achieved with FFmpeg or Winamp, though likely not when the "Insane" preset is used.
These are the most popular lossless codecs, in alphabetical order:
Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC)
ALAC is a codec developed by Apple for usage in iPod and AirPort Express.
ALAC Other features
Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC)
FLAC is a lossless codec developed by Josh Coalson. It's part of the Xiph multimedia portfolio, along with Opus, Ogg, Vorbis, Speex and Theora.
FLAC Other features
Monkey's Audio (APE)
Monkey's Audio is a very efficient lossless compressor developed by Matt Ashland.
APE Other features
OptimFROG is a lossless format developed by Florin Ghido to become the champion in audio compression.
OFR Other features
Tom's verlustfreier Audiokompressor (TAK)
TAK is a lossless codec developed by Thomas Becker.
TAK Other features
True Audio (TTA)
TTA is a lossless codec developed by a international team of programmers.
TTA Other features
WavPack is a fast and featureful lossless codec developed by David Bryant.
WV Other features
Windows Media Audio Lossless (WMAL)
WMA Lossless is the lossless codec developed by Microsoft to be featured in their Windows Media codec portfolio.
WMAL Other features
Aside from the formats mentioned above, there are in fact quite a lot of other lossless formats. To keep the table and list brief and readable, a few formats have not been mentioned.
DTS-HD Master Audio
Similar to the MPEG-4 SLS format, this format has a core track in an older, more widely supported format, DTS. This core lossy track is made lossless by a secondary track with correction data. It is an optional codec in Blu-ray implementations. Its main use is surround sound encoding, and as is the case with MLP, the price of the encoder ensures it is only used in mastering of Blu-ray discs.
LA features an extremely high compression (on par with OptimFrog highest modes, but a bit faster), but it hasn't been updated for more than 10 years. Furthermore, backward compatibility is not guaranteed, so using it for archiving might pose a few problems. It isn't able to cope with file corruption either, software support is very limited and isn't open source.
The MLP codec (of which the mathematical basis was used in Dolby TrueHD) it the codec used for DVD-Audio. It was mandatory in any HD-DVD implementation and optional for Blu-Ray in it's Dolby TrueHD form. It is known to support the 'wasted bits' scheme used in LossyWAV. As encoders are very expensive, its use outside DVD/Blu-ray mastering environments is non-existent. Its main use is encoding surround sound data.
MPEG-4 ALS is the successor to LPAC, which it was based on. It has been as a ISO standard and there is a reference encoder/decoder, but like TTA, it does not have features that make it stand out from other codecs, nor backing by a large organisation, so it hasn't much software and no hardware support.
MPEG-4 SLS is a special codec, having a AAC core track and a 'correction track'. Also known as HD-AAC, SLS stands for Scalable to Lossless. However, there is to date still no affordable software to play, encode or decode (the lossless part of) SLS files.
Shorten was one of the first widely-used lossless formats, and it still occasionally found on the internet, especially in archives, for example etree.org. It is quite fast in both encoding and decoding, but doesn't compress very much. Furthermore, seeking has a troubled past as well as tagging. It is considered obsolete.
Part of the Real codec suite, Real Lossless too hasn't any very special features that make it stand out. Just like WMA Lossless and Apple Lossless, it was created to fit in a codec suite, but unlike WMA Lossless and Apple Lossless, there is no hardware support and software support is limited. Compression is on par with most other codecs, but it is rather slow to encode.
There are a few archaic formats of which encoders and decoders are hard to get by. Most of those would have disappeared by now, but some of them are being preserved for posterity at rjamorim's
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